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An Open Letter to the Deerfield Park District

Pool operators around the county should use the recent events in Glenview to review policies and procedures.

We have now read all the horrific details of the drowning of a 4 year old child in a Glenview Park District pool.  According to many people who were there, there were too many people at the pool, including birthday parties and day camps, to adequately watch their children.  It may be impossible to place the blame for this incident on any individual counselor or lifeguard, but as a parent you start to wonder if this could happen again.

I certainly hope this serves as a wakeup call for pool operators around the country.  Public pools can be crazy places, and sometimes things can get out of control.  I hope our own Deerfield Park District uses this as an opportunity to review its policies and procedures regarding pool usage over the summer.  As a parent of two children in DPD summer camps this year, including a beginning swimmer, I would like to be reassured that day camp swim time schedules do not overlap with other events, such as public swims or private parties.

Is there a maximum number of children that may be allowed in the pool at any given time?  Is each child supervised appropriately?  Does every single camp counselor know exactly who he or she is watching at any one given time?  Do the lifeguards have procedures in place if they feel the pool is becoming overcrowded?

My experience with DPD camps so far has been excellent...great programs and great people.  However, the Glenview incident should be a wakeup call to all of us to not take anything for granted and when in doubt, ASK QUESTIONS.  Before you hand off your child to anyone you had better be convinced that your child will get through the day safely.

Tomorrow, on the first day of summer camp, we will certainly be asking plenty of questions about pool safety.  I expect the staff will be as vigilant as ever, and maybe even on a hightened sense of alert.  Unfortunately that is the only positive thing that can come out of such a terrible incident.  Maybe little Vincente's death will serve to protect other children from meeting his fate.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John Russillo June 18, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I was under the same impression that some camps are there at the same time as open swim. However, we were told this morning that the little ones who are being instructed are never in the pool with other swimmers. I would really like the Park District to comment on this so that we can all be clear.
Deerfield Park District June 18, 2012 at 06:43 PM
We are deeply saddened by the recent drowning in Glenview. We can only imagine the anguish the family and the community are experiencing. This recent event is indeed an important reminder for all of us. This incident has strengthened our resolve to keep our camps and pools as safe as possible. All lifeguards go through an extensive training and certification program. We regularly review our park district policies and procedures, including those regarding pools. With today being our first full day of camps, our supervisory staff members have been in contact with our site directors, camp counselors and lifeguard staff and have alerted them to the “very real situation” that happened in Glenview. Our day camp swim lessons are held in the morning, with swim instructors in the water with the campers. Lifeguards are on duty, and camp staff remain near the edges of the pool to serve as additional “sets of eyes.” No other patrons are in the main pool during day camp swim lessons. During public swim in the afternoon, when day camp participants are in the pool, it is our standard operating procedure to have lifeguards on duty. We also require our camp staff to remain near the edges of the pool to help monitor swim activities. We monitor the number of people entering our pools. In the event that our pools reach capacity, pool management staff will delay entry of any additional patrons until an equal number have exited the pool area. Deerfield Park District
Deerfield Park District June 18, 2012 at 06:43 PM
For more information about any of the Deerfield Park District’s programs or services, please call 847-945-0650.
Adrienne Schwarzbach Johnson June 18, 2012 at 06:55 PM
I have read this discussion with interest. I too was deeply bothered and saddened by needless loss of life referred to in the letter, and glad to hear that the DPD is doing it's job to make sure nothing like that will happen here. I do have a suggestion for lifeguard training, however. There are children in the area (and adults, for that matter) that are on the Autism spectrum. When someone on the Autism spectrum might have a problem in the water, it may take a little knowledge and understanding to make a judgement call regarding helping the individual. My child is now six, and just learning to put his head under the water. For the past years that he has been going into the public pool, I have had to "train" lifeguards wherever I go with him. I would like our park district to be pro-active.
John Russillo June 18, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Thank you for commenting.

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